Student Exhibitions

At the Intersection of Contagion and Connection

HIV/AIDS and Richmond’s LGBTQ+ Communities

Oral Histories by Julia Brittain

Photography by Sherley Arias-Pimentel

View the exhiibtion.

Richmond has one of the highest rates of HIV/ AIDS in the United States.

In 2018, the city ranked 21st among more than 107 localities reporting HIV/ AIDS rates to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (1). In 2019, the health-mapping website AIDSVu reported that there were 5,307 people living with HIV in Richmond, of whom 24.6 % were female and 66.8% were Black (2). The southern states accounted for 51% of all new infections in 2018 (3). Today, HIV is regionally concentrated and disproportionately affects people of color. According to a 2016 CDC study, one out of every two black men who have sex with men will be diagnosed with HIV at some point in their lives. Within Richmond, Male-to-Male Sexual Contact accounted for 66.1% of the HIV diagnoses as of 2019 (2).

Locally, Richmond's HIV crisis is exacerbated by high concentrations of poverty and a lack of sex education within public schools, as well as the opioid epidemic. Yet, outside the public health community, HIV in Richmond has received little attention. Given the demographical shifts in the populations primarily affected by HIV, with its impacts currently bearing hardest on communities of color, the ongoing epidemic has now become largely ignored and overlooked. While the HIV/ AIDS epidemic continues to remain a public health crisis within Richmond, it is also a social crisis as the racial and gender fractures within our society continue to be reflected by the populations most affected by this epidemic.

Learn more about the people who have been impacted by and are fighting HIV/AIDS in Richmond.